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Series preview: Cleveland vs. Royals

Put the slow start in the rearview mirror and keep slugging

Texas Rangers v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Dropping two to the Tigers probably wasn’t the way that Cleveland wanted to start their 2021 campaign, but they hit the ball hard, did technically outscore their opponent, 13-11, and they will play at home for the first time this season. Pretty easy to forget a rough first series with that in mind.

When Cleveland does take to Progressive Field, they’ll be facing someone very familiar with the corner in Carlos Santana. The 2019 Silver Slugger and All-Star will return home for the first time since signing a two-year deal with the Royals this offseason.

Kansas City’s offense rolled through their first two games, outscoring the Rangers, 25-14, before sputtering to just three runs in their series final Sunday.

The Royals may be doing an admirable job avoiding a full-blown tank, but that doesn’t mean they are a team without as many holes as a typical rebuild. There are some highly touted pitching prospects coming in Daniel Lynch, Asa Lacy, and Jackson Kowar, but they aren’t here yet. Instead, the Royals are rolling with pitchers in the twilight of their career, and some big question marks on their staff.

As they proved in their opening series, they are a team that can hit. But can they pitch?

The big news for Cleveland this series is that Logan Allen will make his first start since July 16 when he was a member of the Padres. The lefty pitched 10.2 innings of relief last season and walked as many batters as he struck out (7). He features four pitches, including a slider with good break and a deceptive changeup.

This two-game set follows the same weird setup as opening weekend — there is a game scheduled today, followed by an off-day in case of a weather delay, then another game. As of this writing, there’s a slight chance of rain this afternoon, but nothing that should delay the game. Tuesday and Wednesday look like clear skies in the high-60s. Perfect baseball weather.

Team in a box

2021 Kansas City Royals

Record: 2-1
Runs Scored: 28
Run Differential: 7
Last 10: 2-1
AVG .330
OBP .405
SLG .578
OPS .983
wRC+ 162
ERA 6.33
SIERA 3.93
K-BB% 15.20%

Projected starters

Monday, April 5, 4:10 pm. ET, LHP Danny Duffy vs. Logan Allen

The series opener will be two pitchers making their season debut, but one of them has pitched in 1111.1 innings, and the other is Logan Allen. Thirty-two-year-old Danny Duffy had some dominant stretches early in his career, but as Father Time remains undefeated, he’s sort of settled in his as a back-of-the-rotation guy as he rounds into his mid-30s. He’s not terrible in results or his Statcast measurements — just sort of middling in everything.

Wednesday, April 7, 1:10 p.m. ET, RHP Brad Keller vs. Shane Bieber

One of the fun quirks of the early baseball season is that it allows Brad Keller — the Royals’ No. 1 starter — to have a 40.50 ERA on the books. That’s not a typo. In his first start against the Rangers, Keller allowed six earned runs in 1.1 innings. The Royals ended up coming back to win with some typical slap-happy Royals shenanigans, and Keller was given a no-decision. Bieber, on the other hand, struck out 12 in six innings, gave up two runs, and lost to the Tigers. Baseball!

Lineup highlights

1B, Carlos Santana - Look at any Cleveland lineup over the past decade, and you are likely to see Carlos Santana in it. With the exception of 2018, where he played with the Phillies, Santana has been a mainstay in Cleveland at several different positions — but always playing in at least 140 games every year. This year, he has settled in at first base with the Royals after signing a two-year, $17.5 million deal in the offseason. He has a career .814 OPS at Progressive Field for his career, thanks in large part to his 15.6% walk rate. It doesn’t matter where he is or who he’s facing: he’s going to draw walks.

C, Salvador Perez - With Alex Gordon retiring in the offseason, Salvador Perez is now the elder statesman for the Royals. Two of the 30-year-old’s hits in the Royals’ opening series against the Rangers went for extra bases — a home run on Opening Day and a double a day later.

Royals roster


How many games will Cleveland win against the Royals?

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  • 52%
    (59 votes)
  • 41%
    (46 votes)
  • 6%
    (7 votes)
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